The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club, Bath, England The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club, Bath, England

Travel guide: The Cotswolds

Take a break from city life, pack your overnight bag and head west to the rural luxe land of the Cotswolds for some seriously stylish pleasure and pampering

by 09 October 2014

THE CITY HIT... Cheltenham

No. 131, Cheltenham, England

The gorgeous spa town of Cheltenham offers the perfect blend of chic urban buzz and laid back rural cool. It is London's mini me in the country, with its stunning regency architecture, tree lined promenades, hidden boutiques and haute haunts and foodie heaven hideouts. And this week (until Sunday 12th October) the town plays host to the Cheltenham Literature Festival bringing with it some of the biggest names in fiction, food, fashion, sport, art and politics with talks, debates and other literary events from personalities including Judi Dench, Salman Rushdie, John Cleese and Russell Kane. (www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature)

Sport is also on the agenda later in the month, as Cheltenham Racecourse opens its doors for a new season with The Showcase (17th - 18th October) while The Open runs from 14th -16th November. (www.cheltenham.co.uk).

For a cool yet contemporary stay in the heart of the town, check into one of the eleven rooms at No. 131 on the Promenade – a stunning Grade II listed Georgian villa. There is no need to head out for dinner and drinks as the hotel's restaurant and bar, Crazy Eights, is one of the best in town. (www.no131.com)

THE SPA RETREAT... Barnsley House Hotel

Barnsley House Hotel, Cirencester, England
Spa hotels are everywhere these days, but there is something very magical about Barnsley House Hotel and its spa. Nestled in a chocolate box village just outside Cirencester, the 17th century grade II listed manor house is quintessentially quaint and British on the outside but inside, a mecca of contemporary cool. And the spa, well it is the epitome of luxe lounging. For pure hedonistic pleasure sink into the heated outdoor hydrotherapy pool, delve into the massage menu or simply sit back and take some time out in this contemporary cocoon, where floor to ceiling glass windows wrap you up, yet welcome in the surrounding Cotswolds countryside.

THE FOODIE FAVOURITE... Thyme Cookery School

Thyme Cookery School, Southrop, Gloucestershire

As part of the Thyme emporium - a country estate in the sleepy village of Southrop, which includes a country house hotel, self-catering cottages, the infamous pub The Swan (a favourite with Kate Moss) and an award-winning restaurant, you will find a state of the art cookery school. Here you can explore the art of foraging, brush up on artisan cookery skills such as charcuterie or cheese making or sign up for Thyme's signature series 'Sow, Grow Cook' championing all things British.

THE PUB WITH PANACHE – The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

The Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Oxfordshire

No trip to the countryside is complete without a good old pub lunch, but for more than just your usual picturesque country pub and hearty grub, head to the achingly cool Wild Rabbit in Kingham. Opened by Lady Bamford (the style savvy and eco-chic business brain behind nearby Daylesford Organic Farm), this place is fabulously flawless with every minute detail pristinely polished to perfection. From the first class organic delicacies cooked up by the Bamford's own former chef Adam Caisley to the own brand prosecco and artisan ales and uber luxe décor to die for, you won't want to leave. Don't worry... they have rooms.

Getting there: Trains run directly from London Paddington to most larger towns and cities in the Cotswolds and take an hour and a half, or by car you can be meandering country lanes within two hours of London.

Read More:

How the other half live: Keeping up with the Cambridges in the Cotswolds

Style Guide: Dressing for a country weekend